Now the cooler months have arrived, I love to serve this rich braised duck with a creamy soft polenta or the wide strands of papardelle pasta. It creates beautiful cooking aromas that will waft through your kitchen.
1 whole fresh duck
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 cup instant polenta
4 cups milk
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Cut the duck into 4 pieces or ask your butcher to do this for you.
Season the duck all over. Heat a large sauté pan over a medium heat and brown the duck, skin side down, until golden and a large amount of fat has rendered out. Turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels then place skin side up in a roasting dish.
Tip the fat from the sauté pan into a heat-proof bowl, leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan.
Cook the onions and carrots in the pan with a good pinch of salt for 10 minutes until golden and tender. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, pomegranate molasses and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the red wine and stock, season and bring to the boil. Pour the contents of the pan over the duck. Cover with a piece of baking paper then cover tightly with foil.
Braise for 2 hours or until the duck is falling off the bone.
Transfer the duck to a large plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding the skin and fat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Tip the cooking liquids and vegetables into a large bowl and cool. Cover and chill overnight if time permits. Scrape off the thick layer of fat that will set on the top of the sauce and discard.
Put the sauce into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the duck meat and reheat until hot. Season if needed.
To serve: Spoon the duck ragu over the soft polenta (if making) or serve with hot cooked pasta and a green vegetable of your choice. I served ours with cooked broccolini.
Polenta: Put the milk, garlic and thyme in a large saucepan and bring to just below the boil. Slowly drizzle in the polenta, stirring constantly until the polenta is thick and bubbling. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking on the base of the pan. Take off the heat, stir in the Parmesan and season generously.
Pantry note: Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrup produced by cooking down pomegranate juice. It is a slightly astringent, sweet-sour condiment used widely throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Available at good food stores.